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Businesses have a key role to play in addressing SA's software skills shortage

ITWEB / 15 MAY 2018 - 08.03 / STAFF REPORTER

South Africa might be the leading economy in Africa, but the nation continues to reflect a high rate of unemployment. Although the latest figures show this rate has declined, the numbers reveal large sections of the population are affected by chronic joblessness. Two-thirds of unemployed citizens have been without a job for a year or longer.

Latest statistics from the Quarterly Labour Force Survey disclose worrying details about the high level of youth unemployment. The survey states 39% of all unemployed South Africans have never worked before and most of the youth struggle to find their first job. The figures don't have to shock South Africans; SynergERP's view is that businesses can (and should) pitch in now to help rectify it.

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Provide opportunities for youth

South Africa has so much potential in using innovation to uplift the country, but it lacks the technical skills needed to build next-generation applications. Instead of waiting for the right candidate to come along, you can create them. Search for potential candidates who have a hunger to learn and progress in their careers. You can spot the ones who are passionate about their industry. Train them and give them the skills they need to excel in their jobs.

In essence, recruiters need to shift from an experience-focused recruiting process to an attribute and attitude-focused process. If we can get this right, we can put our innovation to better use. Businesses that offer SETA training, for example, can expect a maximum of 69.5% off their skills development levies.

Prepare employees for the future

Eyewitness News makes a thought-provoking statement: "The root of unemployment is not only a lack of jobs; a key underlying issue is also the inadequately educated workforce." The skills shortage gap is only going to widen with the fourth industrial revolution, which requires businesses to operate in a constant state of change because of fast-paced technological changes.

The shift to the fourth industrial revolution is forcing businesses to rethink their strategy. Businesses will battle to leverage upcoming technology because skilled personnel do not exist yet and students fresh from university will not possess the necessary skills either. It is businesses that must make sure they upskill their current employees and allow them to pass on that knowledge to younger employees in the form of mentorships. Context-based knowledge must never be lost.

Form valuable partnerships

Often, when it comes to addressing the skills shortage, the focus is on the employees. But businesses can work on improving themselves to cater for future employees. Form partnerships with the right companies and hire the right people. You have to surround yourself with the go-getters, the energetic, the ambitious. Create an unspoken bond between your employees that encourages support.

It all boils down to creating a company culture that values and encourages continuous improvement and learning. You could be the best business in the industry today, but if you stop learning, you run the risk of becoming stagnant.

Take Kodak as an example. The company was a leader in the film industry and a household name for many years, but it failed to see digital photography as a disruptive technology and paid the ultimate price for its inaction: a sharp drop in market share leading to its irrelevance in the industry.

Kodak had a 10-year window of opportunity to prepare and did nothing. When it comes to disruptive technology today, businesses need to start preparing for it immediately. You cannot rely on being reactive because it will require too many resources from the business when you implement changes in the ripe stages of disruption. Don't have your Kodak moment.

Connect with people

You must be a people-based business. It doesn't matter what you're selling. It's a person who sells your product or service to another person. Starbucks understands this aspect extremely well. The company creates an unforgettable, hard-to-duplicate experience for its customers. The company's mission statement says it all: "To inspire and nurture the human spirit, one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time." Starbucks shifted the focus from coffee to people. This is what all businesses need to strive towards.

Industry leaders in South Africa like Sage realise that software skills shortages are holding back the country; it's why they are making their voices heard. Ashley Regenass, CEO of SynergERP, was invited to speak on this topic at the 2018 Global Sage Enterprise Management Partners Summit in Seville, Spain, which took place this month.



Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER

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